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FAMOUS SHORT STORY WRITERS. A presentation for Student Support Services participants Troy University Troy, AL 36082. WORKSHOP OBJECTIVES. Provide students with a general overview of a few short story writers who have greatly influenced literary culture.

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A presentation for

Student Support Services participants

Troy University

Troy, AL 36082

workshop objectives
  • Provide students with a general overview of a few short story writers who have greatly influenced literary culture.
  • Encourage students to develop an appreciation for literacy and literature.
  • Encourage students to think critically about the various themes that writers address in their creative works.
short story what is it
Short Story . . . What is it?
  • Tells about a single event or experience
  • Fictional (not true)
  • 500 to 15,000 words in length
  • Has a beginning, middle, and end
  • Creates an impression on the reader
  • Prose (Written in sentence and paragraph form, not in verse)

Slide Source:,2,Definition of a Short Story

great short story writers
Great Short Story Writers

“ . . . are able to use the elements of the short story with such precision that the reader is caught up in the action [activity or message] of the story.”

Source:,10,Short Story Vocabulary

elements of a short story
Elements of a Short Story
  • Setting
  • Figurative Language / Tone/ Style
  • Characterization
  • Plot Elements
  • Point of view / Narration
  • Theme
memorable short story writers often focus on themes
Memorable Short Story Writers’ often focus on Themes

Theme: The story’s main ideas. The “message” the writer intends to communicate by telling the story.

Slide Source:,10,Short Story Vocabulary

aesop 6 th century b c
AESOP (6th Century B.C.)

“Legendary Greek source of over 600 fables including The Tortoise and the Hare, written from the oral, have been translated into English by many . . .”

Example: “The North Wind and the Sun”

some aesop s common themes stories
Some AESOP’s Common THEMES & Stories
  • Slow but steady wins the race. -- The Hare and the Tortoise
  • Birds of a feather flock together. -- The Farmer and the Stork
  • Look before you leap. -- The Fox and the Goat
  • Misfortune tests the sincerity of friends. -- The Bear and the Two Travelers
  • Those who suffer most cry out the least. -- The Oxen and the Axle-Trees

Why use animals to teach about human character?

Perhaps Aesop intended to indicate that people often do not see their own inhumanity or inhumane behaviors nor can they see that sometimes they behave as subordinant species and not as one’s with the aptitude / rational ability to walk as the dominant species in the earth.

aesop s fable
Aesop’s Fable

“The North Wind and the Sun”

“The Wind and the Sun were disputing which was the stronger. Suddenly they saw a traveller coming down the road, and the Sun said: "I see a way to decide our dispute. Whichever of us can cause that traveller to take off his cloak shall be regarded as the stronger. You begin."

So the Sun retired behind a cloud, and the Wind began to blow as hard as it could upon the traveller. But the harder he blew the more closely did the traveller wrap his cloak ‘round him, till at last the Wind had to give up in despair. Then the Sun came out and shone in all his glory upon the traveller, who soon found it too hot to walk with his cloak on.”

Moral/Theme: Kindness effects more than severity or “Gentle persuasion works better than aggressive force.;Power of Rhetoric (general subject)

View video adaptation of this fable by clicking here: YouTube - Aesop's Fables: The Sun and The Wind or go to:

(2 min)

jakob grimm 1785 1863 wilhelm grimm 1786 1859 grimm brothers 1785 1786
Jakob Grimm (1785-1863)Wilhelm Grimm (1786-1859)Grimm Brothers (1785/1786)

Fairy Tales (Translated German oral tales)


“Godfather Death”

“Hansel and Gretel”

“Little Red Riding Hood”




grimms fairy tales
Grimms Fairy Tales

Some Themes:

-- Material poverty can lead to spiritual poverty in some humans.

-- Greed can lead to a poverty.

-- Entitlement leads to death.

-- Death does not discriminate.

-- Failure to exercise wisdom leads to disaster.

-- Failure to live an ordered life leads to danger and disaster.

-- Love conquers evil.

-- Love can be blinded by greed.

-- Man’s mistreatment toward fellow man is a tendency.

-- Abuse of others (women, elderly, children, the poor) is a sign of misplaced or corrupt Western values.

-- Western ideals of beauty have corrupted many minds.

grimms fairy tale
Grimms Fairy Tale

See Goldilocks video atYouTube - grimms fairy tale classics at min)

edgar allan poe 1809 1849
Edgar Allan Poe (1809-1849)

Credited as the Originator of the Modern Short Story and recognized for his promotion of the Gothic style.

  • “The Tell-tale Heart”
  • ““Fall of the House of Usher”
  • The Pit and the Pendulum”


“Poe’s psychologically thrilling tales examining the depths of the human psyche earned him much fame during his lifetime and after his death.” He was also an exceptional poet who wrote “Annabel Lee” and “The Raven.”

poe s tendencies themes
Poe’s Tendencies & Themes
  • “Dying and death were part of Poe’s life.“
  • Common Themes:

(a) Death and Violence are directly or indirectly part of human life.

(b) Immortality can be both a human desire and source of torment

(“Tell-tale Heart”).

(c) Love is closely linked with death (especially when love is denied).

(d) Mental illness is part of the human psyche that makes life unlovely.

  • “He is said to have “transmogrified” death in his works.” (Change into something strange, odd, grotesque)
  • “He used the style of Gothic fiction with a sense of the uncanny.”

(Gothic fiction is a form of Medieval romance with an undertone of mystery/darkness/fear/supernaturalism. Setting/architecture is very important to creating a gothic tale full of drama and suspense. Very edgy (ledges and shadows and looming overhanging) features mark gothic architecture.)

  • His tales were called grotesque, arabesque, and terrifying, with recurring themes of being buried alive and coming back from the grave.”

Source: and

edgar allan poe
Edgar Allan Poe

View “The Fall of the House of Usher” video adaptation at YouTube - The Fall of the House of Usher-Vincent Price-Edgar Allan Poe at

herman melville 1819 1891
Herman Melville (1819-1891)

Short Stories:

“Benito Cereno”

“Bartleby the Scrivener”

“Billy Budd”

He also wrote the masterpiece novel Moby Dick.

To listen to an audio recording of “Bartleby the Scrivener,” go to or click on the following:Internet Archive: Details: Bartleby the Scrivener

herman melville
Herman Melville
  • Wrote about life as a sea of turbulence and adventure.
  • Wrote about the presence of justice and injustice in the world
  • Wrote about the flawed and unjust character revealed in humans.
  • Wrote about the rhetorical power of passive resistance and civil disobedience.
kate chopin 1850 1904
Kate Chopin (1850-1904)

Kate Chopin . . . an American author of short stories and novels, is often viewed as an early feminist writer. She also wrote about identify and race in culture.


kate chopin s stories
Kate Chopin’s Stories
  • “Desiree’s Baby” (racism, “passing,” and interracial marriage, French Creole culture)
  • “Story of an Hour” (frustrations of women/wives in early America)

Famous Novella: The Awakening

kate chopin
Kate Chopin

Listen to “Story of an Hour” (track 17) at Internet Archive: Details: Kate Chopin — The Storm, The Story of an Hour, and Other Stories or go to:

flannery o connor 1925 1964
Flannery O’Connor (1925-1964)

flannery o connor
Flannery O’Connor

Short Stories:

  • “A Good Man is Hard to Find” (story collection title also)
  • “The Lame Shall Enter First”
  • Everything That Rises Must Converge (short story collection title)
flannery o connor foci themes
Flannery O’Connor Foci/Themes
  • Focused on the language people used in communities.
  • Focused on the conflict between people’s behaviors and their religious values or knowledge of right and wrong.
  • Focused on The power of self-image and self-deception.
  • One Theme: The more people know, the worse they behave.
raymond carver
Raymond Carver


raymond carver 1938 1988
Raymond Carver (1938-1988)

Possibly his most famous collection of short stories is Cathedrals, which is also the name of one of the most notable short stories in the collection by the same title.

Another famous Carver short story is “A Small Good Thing.” Watch video adaptation at the following link:

YouTube - A Small Good Thing - Adapted From Raymond Carver Short

Carver’s Common Themes:

-- Average Americans contend with economic and social struggles to hold their ground.

-- Humor (laughter) is a survival tool.

-- Work is a drudgery to human life.

some other famous short story short fiction writers
Some Other Famous Short Story/ Short Fiction Writers
  • Nathanial Hawthorne (“Young Goodman Brown”
  • Alice Walker (“Everyday Use”)
  • Toni Cade Bambara (Gorilla My Love)
  • William Faulkner (Barn Burning; “A Rose for Emily”)
  • Charlotte Perkins Gillman (“The Yellow Wallpaper”)
  • Ernest Hemingway (“The Secret Life of Walter Mitty”)
  • Alice Munro
  • Joyce Carol Oates
  • Katherine Ann Porter
  • Zora Neale Hurston
  • Tim O’Brien
  • Doris Lessing
  • Eudora Welty
  • Chinua Achebe
  • Jorge Luis Borges
the end
  • Please complete the academic seminar evaluation form to receive your workshop credit.
  • Return form to SSS staff in 109 Shackelford Hall Annex.
  • Thank you for your participation.

Rebecca Money, SPR 2009